The Era of Data Privacy: Four Tips to Humanize Your Brand

Eva Maria Schmidt
February 18, 2020

Ready or not, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is now the law – and it has marketers everywhere refocused on data privacy. How has your data strategy changed since the roll-out of privacy-based regulations like CCPA, and earlier regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation? For global brands, changes have likely been drastic. CCPA, GDPR, and other privacy regulations like them have handed a new set of challenges to marketers on transparency, access, and intent for data that ties back to customers. In short, regulations have made it harder to reach customers with digital marketing tools – and much more difficult to understand who they are and what they care about.

While data shows that 62 percent of marketers report that relationship marketing is the most important or one of the most important functions of their team, there’s also the reality that CCPA and GDPR could have devastating effects. For example, due to new opt-in regulations, one brand reported GDPR single-handedly destroyed 80 percent of its marketing contacts. You don’t have to be a data scientist to realize that these contradictory data points spell disaster for marketers who haven’t thought through their data compliance strategies.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. One bright spot the industry has recognized since GDPR was enacted are the opportunities for “humanized engagement.” Now that you have to earn marketing opt-ins from every customer, brands are leaning on a tried-and-true engagement strategy: relationship marketing.

Relationship marketing is rooted in the idea that marketers seek to develop solid relationships with customers by giving them direct information that caters to their specific interests and needs, using critical touch points. This is of particular importance because every communication point with a customer is valuable data where highly personalized marketing strategies are derived to serve up relevant, seamless experiences. And the better the experience, the stronger the relationship; the stronger the relationship, the deeper the loyalty.

Here are four tactics for better engagement that propel customer relationships forward:

1. Double-Down on Events IRL

A large driver of successful relationship-based marketing comes from IRL (in real life) events like concerts, meet-ups, and other socially driven gatherings. Events provide opportunities for brand representatives to interact with customers, all the while building rapport, putting a face to the brand, and gathering useful information and inbound marketing potential. To make the most use of events, training customer-facing staff is paramount. Communicate the objectives of the customer interactions, arm them with useful materials (flyers, swag, tablets to log customer information/feedback), and develop a long-term strategy on what the brand intends to do with events-based customer data.

2. Get Visual

It’s near impossible to escape social media’s touch on IRL marketing opportunities. Everything from assigning specific hashtags, to installing Instagrammable visuals, to using social as a giveaway mechanism, has been fairly successful in the age of “digital influencers.” Smart marketers make the most of visuals to drive impressions, extend brand reach, and serve as a platform for relationship marketing. When it comes to the effective use of visual marketing, the motto is: “Pics or it did not happen!” gathered seven great examples of “Instagrammable Marketing” that are worth checking out. As the boundaries between digital and IRL become increasingly blurred, marketers should prepare to combine marketing concepts developed for cross-channel use to get the best of both worlds.

3. Reignite Direct Mail Campaigns

Whether high-quality print media, personalized coupons, or product messages, a tangible print product in the right hands does not fail to impress, even in times of digitization. In fact, it can be a differentiator, especially with clever messaging and packaging. Industry insiders confirm the potential of direct mail when combined with data-driven targeting: 29 percent of US marketers rated direct mail as being more effective than corporate sites or social media channels, according to a 2018 StreetFight survey.

To launch a successful direct mail campaign, brands must merge different data sets –demographic, engagement, and geo-location. This merged approach will deliver strong lead lists that put a brand one step closer to inbound requests with eager customers.

4. Strive for Omnichannel Excellence

There is no doubt that e-commerce will continue to grow at a tremendous pace, but the impact that brands continue to make in the real trading environment should not be underestimated. For example, fashion collaborations are fueling their cult status by dropping limited-edition product collaborations both in-store and online.

Adidas continues to shine with highly successful and heavily anticipated collaborations with the likes of Kanye West’s Yeezy brand, Pharrell Williams, and its partnership with Beyonce’s Ivy Park athleisure line. Nike has successfully collaborated with Virgil Abloh, who just happens to be the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, and streetwear couture brand Supreme turned into a $1 billion brand in part due to collaborations with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton.

Unconventional collaborations and cult brands are clearly driving heavy word-of-mouth marketing, shareable campaigns, and hype – not to mention revenue – for big brands, and retailers across all segments bridge in-store events and activations to increase brand and product awareness digitally. Brands that collect valuable data in their physical storefronts and merge those data points with digital properties better contextualize and develop personalized customer experiences. Advanced marketing platforms like Selligent intelligently connect the data from retail, social, and inter-brand experiences, along with those unconventional collaborations, to create a more holistic omnichannel experience.

With data privacy top of mind for brands and marketers, it’s important that they work with platforms and partners that are equally committed to data security and protection. Selligent has a long-standing commitment to data security, reflected by the company’s recent successful completjon of its 2019 System and 2019 System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type 2 examination, as well as their 2019 HIPAA Security Compliance Assessment.

As brands refocus their data-led approach to customer experience and marketing with a data privacy lens, they’ll have a stronger grasp on connecting and developing real relationships with willing and eager customers. Real relationships will drive better customer understanding and brands will more effectively deliver exceptional experiences because of the ‘know me’ effect.

Yes, while learning to work with stricter data privacy rules like CCPA can be initially daunting, nimble and creative brands will learn to use them to their advantage by focusing on what’s valuable – and doing away with what’s not. By using your tried-and-true marketing practices, skills, and ingenuity, you can not only comply with CCPA, but overcome the challenges it presents.

Adapted from an article originally published on, July 5, 2019.